For Immediate Release
December 20, 2023
INDIANAPOLIS – In response to increased activity of respiratory viruses such as flu, COVID-19 and RSV, hospitals in Marion County will soon begin implementing temporary restrictions for visitors. Director and Chief Medical Officer of the Marion County Public Health Department, Virginia A. Caine, M.D., is making the request as part of the patient visitor policy of the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety.
Hospitals in Marion County plan to implement temporary visitor restrictions that include:
- No visitors with symptoms of illness such as sudden onset of fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat, and runny nose.
- No visitors under the age of 18.
The restrictions are designed to help protect the most vulnerable patients from these viruses. As with any time of the year, a visitor who is not feeling well should stay home. Visitors should observe the standard practices of washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes when around others. Masks will be provided for guests by the facility.
Visitors should check with a hospital’s website or call the facility in advance to learn more about its specific restrictions, any exceptions, and when visitor restrictions will begin at that hospital. Special arrangements can be made with each facility to allow additional visitors or younger visitors based on circumstances, such as end of life.
Marion County hospitals participating in the temporary visitor restrictions include those within Community Health Network, Franciscan Health Indianapolis, Ascension St. Vincent, Indiana University Health, and Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital.
Vaccines are currently available for flu, COVID-19 and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus). Dr. Caine strongly urges vaccination for all who are eligible, but especially for people at higher risk of serious complications from illness.
“Getting vaccinated for flu helps protect everyone, but especially the very young and those over age 65,” said Dr. Caine. “Vaccines for RSV and COVID-19 are also very important. RSV vaccine is recommended for pregnant women and for adults ages 60 and older. Like the flu vaccine, updated COVID-19 vaccine is available and recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older.”
Flu can cause significant illness and, in some cases, lead to extended hospitalizations or death, and RSV causes hospitalizations and deaths for infants and those over age 60.
COVID-19 still causes hospitalizations and death in the immunocompromised and those over age 60 – who are the most at-risk – but children, teens, and adults up to age 60 are also vulnerable to short and long-term complications and hospitalization.
The Abrysvo RSV Vaccine is recommended during weeks 32-36 of pregnancy to protect the newborn from hospitalization. People should talk with their medical provider about these vaccines and which ones are recommended for them based on age and other factors.
The Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety is comprised of chief executive, medical, nursing, quality, safety, and pharmacy officers from six Indianapolis health systems. In addition, there is participation by the Indiana Hospital Association, Indiana Department of Health, and the Marion County Public Health Department. The coalition is a non-profit public charity organization.
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